Politics

Pelosi Blows Off Calls to Step Down

‘It's not up to them,’ she says of Democrats calling for new leadership

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi dismissed calls on Thursday for her to step down. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Describing herself as “worth the trouble,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Thursday blew off calls from some chamber Democrats for her to step down from leadership in the wake of special election losses this year and a failure to win a House majority in four straight national elections. 

“It’s not up to them,” the California Democrat said of members calling for her to let someone else give it a try, before calling herself a “master legislator.”

The comments were in marked contrast to those of people such as Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, who joined some other Democrats Wednesday night on CNN in saying it was time for Pelosi to go. 

"Whether she’s a leader or not is up for the [Democratic] caucus to decide,” Moulton said. “It’s clear that, I think, across the board in the Democratic Party, we need new leadership. It’s time for a new generation of leadership.”

On Thursday, though, Pelosi praised the tighter margins in this year’s special elections in four GOP-held seats in Kansas, Montana, South Carolina and Georgia compared to last fall, despite the Republicans retaining all four seats.

The minority leader acknowledged that those seats left open by President Donald Trump’s appointments were not Democratic priorities but she said they opened up new fronts for the party.

“They’ve now made these competitive races,” she said. “These are opportunities for us.”

Pelosi said she believes the reason why the GOP has spent millions targeting her during elections is because she’s “an effective leader.”

She acknowledged that the two special elections this week (in Georgia and South Carolina) were difficult races to win but said negative ads contributed to the falsehoods.

Pelosi said she’s frequently praised for the amount of money she’s able to raise, and many people suggest she spend some of it on herself, she said in response to a question about whether she needs to rehab her image. But Pelosi said she’d rather spend the money on individual members.

“Maybe I should, but the fact is what I want to do is have these members present themselves,” she said.

The California Democrat said negative ads contributed to what she called a “wrap-up smear” in which negative ads are covered by the media, then repackaged by campaigns.

“I think I’m worth the trouble,” Pelosi said. “My caucus is overwhelmingly supportive of me.”

Asked to respond to a tweet by President Donald Trump about her leadership helping the Republican Party win elections and tying Democratic candidates to her and San Francisco, Pelosi praised her home city.  

The California Democrat said she was proud to support “progressive” ideals. She said the insult against her city represented a “bankruptcy of values” and she would be interested to see what the GOP message would be if she was “from some other place.”

“It’s not about me necessarily,” Pelosi said of the president’s tweet. “He didn’t write that. That’s the first one I think he didn’t write. The Republicans gave him that.”

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